Reviews

This synthetic article questions the Western perception of early-twentieth-century Tatar and Central Asian Jadidism as a form of “liberal Islam” transportable to the present period, underlying the many disparities between Western expectations and post-Soviet reality. A. Khalid first skim through the Cold-War-period Western historiography and perception of Jadidism as a single secularist movement of modernisation, which was then relying on narratives by Muslim-background émigrés from Russia and Central Asia. He reminds the sharp contrast between this representation and the Soviet version of Jadidism as a bourgeois nationalism, starkly differentiated from nineteenth-century secularist “enlighteners” (prosvetiteli) inclined to appreciate the “positive consequences” of Russian rule. He also casts light on the differences between Jadidism and movements like the Alash Orda or Azerbaijani modernism (the essential difference between Tatar and Central Asian reformism, on the one hand, and Azerbaijani modernism on the other had been analysed by François Georgeon: see notably his “Note sur le modernisme en Azerbaïdjan au tournant du siècle,” Cahiers du monde russe 37/1-2 [1996]: 97-106). Present-day historians’ tendency of adopting the Jadids’ view of themselves as the logical leaders of society has also been questioned, as well as the rejection of their opponents as a single mass of traditionalists. (The few existing studies on the so-called Qadimiyya have revealed the highly heterogeneous composition of this polemical category.) The author then briefly skims through the new meanings that Jadidism has taken now in the places where it existed. He insists for instance on the discrepancy between the Jadids’ current celebration as martyrs of national independence in Uzbekistan and their original agenda, viz. the constitution of the Russian Empire as a liberal and democratic state. Last, A. Khalid evokes the lack of posterity of Islamic reform in present-day Central Asia, a region where the Muslim Boards have situated themselves within the Hanafi tradition fiercely combated by the Jadids, and where the “radical” Muslims’ point is to Islamize the modern world rather than to modernise Islam. At the same time, one may wonder whether the restriction of Jadidism to those protagonists of debates about the reform of Muslim cultural life is not too restrictive, given the strong political content that these same debates took, especially in European Russia, from the very first years of the twentieth century. As to the presentation of Jadidism as a movement rooted in its own time and space, it does perhaps not take into account the present influence of major Jadid thinkers like Bigi or Kamali in the Volga-Ural region itself, as well as in a country like Turkey, far beyond the tiny circle of historians of ideas.

Stéphane A. Dudoignon, National Centre for Scientific Research, Paris
CER: II-3.1.C-131